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Team Denmark ELITE Center's strength and conditioning coach for swimming discusses how he and his athletes have benefited from Pavel's strength concepts — and how kettlebells have improved their performance

January 18, 2011 10:28 AM

Denmark ELITE swimming strength and conditioning coach discusses success with Russian kettlebells

John Du Cane from Dragon Door interviewed Kenneth Jay

at Pavel's June 2004 Russian Kettlebell Challenge certification.

Kenneth: Right now, I work with professional athletes in swimming. I work for a combined federation in Denmark called Team Denmark ELITE Center which has all different sports. They take the best athletes and train them for competition, the Europeans, Worlds and Olympic Games. I am one of three specialized strength and conditioning coaches associated with Team Denmark ELITE Center. I take care of the swimming.

John: Do you have a personal background in swimming?

Kenneth: My general background in Martial Arts started out with Karate and then later evolved to Bruce Lee's Jeet Kune Do and Wing Chun Kung Fu. I do a little bit of Submission Wrestling and Mixed Martial Arts, just to combine it all. I've been competing a little bit also in Kick Boxing and Tai Boxing, at the national level.

John: And, what kind of a background have you had in physical exercise?

Kenneth: It went along with my Martial Arts practice. I was really overweight as a child, when I started. I was what you could refer to as a "fat kid." I started practicing Karate and my instructor was really inspiring and he just made me do a lot of jumps and push-ups and stuff like that, just breaking a good sweat and really getting to accepting myself.

So, basically I started working out in the gym everyday when I was fourteen, lifting weights, doing all sorts of different stuff, the basic stuff with the machines. But, pretty soon I took a liking to barbell lifting and doing squats and dead lift.

John: What got you into kettlebells?

Denmark ELITE swimming strength and conditioning coach discusses strength training with Russian kettlebells

Kenneth: That's quite interesting…I'm really addicted to strength training and trying to enhance performance. So I always do a lot of research on the internet and in the library.

So, I just was searching for the word "strength" and "Olympic lifting" and stuff like that and one of these words made a reference to an article by Brad Johnson who's really good at body weight exercises. And, he made some reference to kettlebell training and body weight training. There was some links referring to Body Weight training and kettlebell training and then popped up. And, then I just looked it over and went through it. And, every time I open the computer, Dragon Door pops up.

I read everything on Dragon Door and pretty soon ordered Power to the People! by Pavel which was really, really, really inspiring to read. Actually the chapter he has about periodization and how to manipulate with a load to constantly keep gaining was a tremendous influence in my own training.

And, it's something I have implemented with great success in the athletes that I train now.

John: Excellent.

Kenneth: The national swimming coach is a very educated guy. He's out of the Finnish Judo Sports. He has been taught by the greats of biomechanics like Kumi. He's a level five swimming instructor-there are only twenty people in the world at the same level.

And he found what I'd been doing it very interesting and didn't know that much about it. So, he said, "Okay, Kenneth, I'm going to give you a free pass on this one. You try Pavel's techniques and we'll see how it goes and then report back to me."

So we implemented Pavel's concepts and you could actually see the swimmers' performance go through the roof, not only in strength training but also in the pool.

And, it didn't seem like it was plateauing…they had made tremendous improvement in a very short amount of time.

But then kettlebells just kept popping in front of my eyes and "I got to learn a little bit more about that." So, I ordered Pavel's book "The Russian Kettlebell Challenge" and I started reading it. It sounded pretty cool and something new. Then I talked to some of the other coaches and none of them had ever even heard about it.

Then I started looking it up on the internet and reading up about it and I think I actually read Pavel's "Kettlebell Challenge" ten or twelve times. Really, just to kind of get all of the information and to kind of to absorb it and let it sink in. And, then I started out by trying to do swings with just a dumbbell, for starters. And then trying to pull it all the way over the head to replicate a snatch.

So, I took that experience and put it to work with one of my swimmers who's probably going to be, if not this year in Athens, the Olympic champion, but definitely going to be a top medalist in 2008.

He's a very excellent guy. He's 21 years old now, but he has had a shoulder injury. He's had the shoulder injury for four or five years. It was really quite frustrating for him to maybe…maybe beginning to think about that he might not be able to go all the way to the top because his shoulder was shot.

But, then, I started implementing the swings for him, because it had helped me out. So we tried that very, very light. And, then we did the Turkish Get-Ups.

I eventually made a German contact that has found a guy in Russia who ships them to Germany. And, I got my hands on kettlebells that way.

John: And, how's your swimmer doing then as a result?

Denmark ELITE swimming strength and conditioning coach discusses strength training success with Russian kettlebells

Kenneth: Actually, he has improved very, very, very well.

John: What's the swimmer's name?

Kenneth: He's called Anders Beck,

John: We will be looking out for him.

Kenneth: Yeah. Look out for him.

John: So, it has improved his shoulder?

Kenneth: It has improved the shoulder extensively.

John: Excellent.

Kenneth: We have been doing other exercises as well for his shoulder girdle, but the main two exercises we've been doing is the Turkish Get-Ups and the swings.

But, now, I'm going to take all of this information, when it has sunk in, and take it to the Team Denmark ELITE Center and say, "Hey, we've got to start tomorrow looking into this because it is so beneficial for almost every type of sport."

I'm completely amazed at the way that you can take a simple…well, a simple cannon ball… and put a handle on it, and make it so, so versatile a tool for strength and conditioning. It's absolutely amazing.

I've worked with the swimmers now, going on three years. And the amount of progress that they have made from when I got to know about the swings and the stuff that I implemented, it's really amazing. So, my bosses are very happy!

John: And, how has the Kettlebell Certification experience been for you?

Kenneth: If I should pick a phrase that best describes it, that would be "mind blowing." It's really, really excellent to first of all to meet Pavel and all of the other instructors. They are a huge inspiration.

This whole atmosphere seems like there's a certain aura around it. There's just like a glowing…like he's just very present. He's very much there and so are the other kettlebell instructors. It's kind of hard to describe their "wisdom." But, I think, technically that the Europeans, especially, have a lot to learn from what goes on over here.

I will definitely recommend other strength training coaches to come to the Russian Kettlebell Challenge Certification Seminar and to look into Pavel's books, definitely…definitely.

Denmark ELITE swimming strength and conditioning coach achieves strength training success with Russian kettlebells

Kenneth Jay can be reached at: